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6 men to be criminally charged in Islip dumping investigation, sources say

Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood is shown on

Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood is shown on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Two former Islip Town parks department officials, a pair of contractors, a prominent local businessman and his son will be criminally charged Monday in a Suffolk County courtroom as part of the district attorney's investigation into dumping in Islip, according to sources.

The six -- former Islip Town Parks Commissioner Joseph J. Montuori Jr. and his former executive secretary, Brett A. Robinson; businessman Thomas Datre Sr. and his son, Thomas Datre Jr.; Christopher Grabe of Islandia Recycling; and Ronald Cianciulli of Atlas Asphalt, a Deer Park-based paving company -- have been told to appear in state Supreme Court in Central Islip on charges related to a special grand jury investigation, the sources said.

Along with charges against the six, four businesses connected with the Datre family also will be charged, the sources said. The charges for the individuals and the businesses include conspiracy, criminal mischief and multiple violations of state environmental laws, the sources said. They carry potential penalties including imprisonment and millions of dollars in fines.

John Carman, the Garden City attorney representing Cianciulli, said he and his client have been notified that they should appear before Judge Fernando Camacho for processing Monday morning.

Carman said he didn't know specifics about what the allegations against Cianciulli were, but assumed the matter involves a site on Brook Avenue in Deer Park, one of the locations that district attorney investigators took soil samples from in a wetlands area near the Islip-Babylon border in the summer.

"He [Cianciulli] really doesn't have any involvement," Carman said. "They haven't shared any information with us about what allegedly happened or his involvement."

Matt Tuohy, Grabe's attorney, said his client was the foreman of the crew run by Thomas Datre Jr.

"[Grabe] is saying he was 100 percent innocent," Tuohy said. "He was just doing his job, taking his marching orders."

 

Probe grows since April

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota began investigating the dumping in April, when investigators discovered about 50,000 tons of debris laced with asbestos, petroleum-based products, heavy metals and pesticides at soccer fields and a recharge basin at Islip-owned Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood.

The district attorney's probe then spread to three other sites where contaminated debris also has been found: a vacant lot at the corner of Sage Street and Islip Avenue in Central Islip, a six-home development for veterans in Islandia, and the state-protected wetlands area.

Analyses show that the materials dumped at the park, the Islip Avenue lot, the veterans development and the site along Brook Avenue in Deer Park are similar, Spota has said. All four sites had material that contains semivolatile organic compounds, pesticides and metals.

Some of the individuals to appear in court Monday are said by sources to be tied to dumping at one or more of the four sites.

In August, Spota applied to the New York State Office of Court Administration to convene a special grand jury to investigate the dumping cases. That body, which unlike a regular grand jury has the power to conduct its own wide-ranging investigation into dumping on Long Island, began meeting in September and will continue until at least February.

Montuori, who is a Conservative Party member in addition to his former post as Islip Town parks commissioner, was forced to resign his town job in May after the dumping scandal broke; his executive assistant, Robinson, was fired.

Sources said the district attorney's investigation showed Montuori and Robinson allowed the dumping to take place at the park.

 

Ties to Conservative Party

Newsday reported in August that both Montuori and Robinson had consulted the town's Conservative Party leader, Michael Torres, about the park as the scandal unfolded.

Montuori met with Torres and Thomas Datre Jr. at a local Italian restaurant to discuss what was going on at the park, two sources with knowledge of this meeting said. And in January of this year, when Montuori told Robinson to get the cleanup organized, Robinson's response was that he would have to "call Mike," which other sources said was a reference to Torres.

Torres did not return calls for comment for that August report.

One of the four businesses charged, Daytree at Cortland Square, was named by Islip Town officials as a "responsible party" for the dumping in the park. The head of that company is Clara Datre, Thomas Datre Sr.'s wife. The couple were prominent political fundraisers who donated and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Islip Republican committee, headed by Frank Tantone, and the town Conservative Party. The Datres have denied involvement in the park dumping.

 

Connections among sites

Thomas Datre Jr. is the owner of DFF Farm Corp., which operated out of the same Ronkonkoma building as Daytree at Cortland Square. DFF Farm Corp. is another of the four companies to be charged, sources said. Thomas Datre Jr.'s company had worked on the park but only brought "permissible fill" there, according to his attorney Kevin Kearon. Thomas Datre Jr. subsequently removed 45 truckloads of fill after the dumping was discovered, Kearon said.

Investigators began examining the Veterans Way site in Islandia after learning Thomas Datre Jr.'s company was involved in the project, other sources have said. The development was built by Long Island Home Builders Care Corp., a charitable organization headed by Datre Sr. at the time of construction. Both Thomas Datre Sr. and Clara Datre were past presidents of the Long Island Builders Institute, which operates Home Builders Care as its charitable arm.

Thomas Datre Sr. told Newsday in May that he would stake his reputation on the quality of fill brought to Veterans Way. He said he saw some of the fill arrive. "It was clean sand with boulders," he said.

Grabe of Islandia Recycling donated $70,000 worth of labor and materials to a Brentwood church that had asked Islip Town if the soccer fields in Clemente Park could be repaired -- a move that ultimately led to the dumping at the park. The town stopped Grabe from working at the park in April. In an interview the day after Spota's office subpoenaed records from Islip about the project on the soccer fields at the park, Grabe told Newsday the church had put out the call for material to be used on the soccer fields. "I wasn't there every day so I don't know what exactly went on," Grabe told Newsday at the time.

Atlas Asphalt had rented a soil sifter that was found near a 300-foot berm of fill that had been placed illegally on a protected wetlands area at 175 Brook Ave. in Deer Park, according to investigators. The company, owned by Cianciulli, is headquartered on the same block as the wetlands area.

 

The story so far

 

April 21. The Suffolk County district attorney's office, investigating allegations of illegal dumping at a Town of Islip-owned park, subpoenas records from the municipality.

April 24. Islip Town formally blames Daytree at Cortland Square for the park dumping.

May 6. Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota says at least one "unscrupulous contractor" is responsible for asbestos left in the debris dumped at Roberto Clemente Park.

May 13. Investigators find asbestos at a site on Islip Avenue in Central Islip.

May 29. Spota says debris found at a wetlands site on the Islip-Babylon border was dumped by the same people responsible for dumping at the park.

June 11. A development for veterans in Islandia is found to be contaminated with heavy metals, banned pesticides and petroleum-based products, officials say.

June 27. Soil samples taken from the rear of a Deer Park property that backs onto the wetlands site show asbestos and other toxic materials similar to those found at other contaminated sites in Islip, Spota says.

Sept. 9. Islip gives the state its plan for removing the estimated 50,000 tons of dirt and debris strewn with toxins dumped at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood.

Sept. 10. The Suffolk County district attorney's office convenes a special investigative grand jury into dumping on Long Island.

Nov. 26. The state Department of Environmental Conservation says Islip Town will have to drill additional wells to monitor the groundwater as it cleans up tens of thousands of tons of contaminated fill dumped at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood.

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